On June 1et 1926, a little girl was born who would, in her short life, become the stuff of sexual fantasy for every red-blooded man on earth who watched moves, but her start in life was anything but easy. Norma Jean Mortenson made her bow at Los Angeles General Hospital, her father having bought a motorbike and driven off, abandoning the family in Los Angeles.
The girl grew up unaware of who her father was, with a promiscuous mother, Gladys whose antics only served to confuse the girl further, Gladys gave Norma Jean the surname Baker, that of a former boyfriend, but their lives were impoverished. Good-looking Gladys worked as a film-cutter for RKO Studios, but was mentally ill, in and out mental institutions all her life, so that Norma Jean was often fostered out.
At nine she began a 2-year stay an orphanage, before moving on to other foster homes, so in 1942 aged 16, she married 21-year-old James Dougherty, just to avoid more foster care, and it was no surprise that in 1946 they got divorced. Modelling swimsuits by then, and bleaching her hair blonde, her sultry looks meant that pictures of her soon caught public attention, and were spotted by the chief of RKO movies, Howard Hughes.
He was smitten helping her to get a contract with 20th Century-Fox worth $125 per week six month s, going up to $150 after that. The rest, as they say, is history, for we are talking here about the woman voted Sexiest Woman of the Century by People Magazine, in 1999, the inimitable, gorgeous, tragic wonder that was Marilyn Monroe.
It had been originally been suggested that she take the stage name Carol Lind, but instead she chose her mother’s maiden name, Monroe. Marilyn Monroe rolled off the tongue easily, on the recommendation of a studio executive, so Norma Jean had chosen it.
Miss California Artichoke Queen.in 1947, Marilyn was the very first Playboy “Sweetheart” of the Month, December 1953, and voted, by UK magazine Empire in 1995 as the Sexiest Female Movie Star of All Time, ranked at eigth of the top 100 movie stars. Playboy named her the Number One Sex Star of the 20th century in 1999.
So famously sexy was she that a dress she wore on the day she sang Happy Birthday Mr President to John F Kennedy, a dress she literally had to be sewn onto on the night, sold for a staggering $1,267,500.00, the world record holding piece of clothing ever sold, the Guinness Book of World Records claims.
She died, tragically of a drug overdose, telephone in hand, in 1962 at age 36, leaving an estate valued at $1.6 million, but even today, the marketing of her pictures and name earns the Monroe estate a reported $2 million a year. Her image has appeared on postage stamps in France and the USA, on the cover of music albums, and who can forget the tribute song written by Elton John, Candle in the Wind?
Her most famous films were Gentlemen prefer Blondes, with Jayne Russell, Some like it Hot, with Tony Curtis, and the Seven Year Itch, her trademarl sexuality making each of these movies blockbuster hits anf genuine classics, yet for all her talent, Marilyn was a deeply troubled woman, prone to depression and periods of mental instability. Still in all, her legend was her allure, and nothing she ever did could diminish that.
Marilyn was one of the first Los Angeles natives to become a major movie star, so beloved that, In 1999, a make-up kit that she had owned sold for $266,500. The glorious body this incredible sex-goddess flaunted at eager males was a truly classic shape, according to her dressmaker, the measurements coming in at 37-23-36, an hour-glass figure if ever there was one
I am not ashamed to admit that, when I realized that today was the 85th anniversary of her birth a tear came to my eye, because her beauty and talent were taken away from us when she was in her prime, and I doubt very much that we will ever see her like again. As legends go, she is up there with the gods of movie history, a sexy, sassy brilliant girl who simply couldn’t handle the pressure of it all. Norma Jean, the fantasy woman of every man’s dreams, even 85 years on.